We don’t walk enough. Towns are built around cars in ways you don’t even realize until you’re forced to get somewhere by not riding in one. It’s really quite silly. Suburban sprawl and endless seas of parking lots didn’t happen overnight, but they weren’t planned either.
Yesterday afternoon, after trying and failing to bum a ride with a friend to orchestra rehearsal some 1.5 miles from campus, I wound up walking. I was mildly irritated. It was going to take me about half an hour, and I had to carry my heavy backpack and viola, and it wouldn’t have taken more than ten minutes for someone to drive me. Once I got going, though, the weather was nice, and my mood markedly improved.
Two things struck me. First: how car-centric my campus is. Yes, there are crosswalks and sidewalks, but it is simply not designed with pedestrians in mind. I find this pretty ridiculous since it is a college campus and lots of people will be walking. Parking is so cheap, though, that everyone opts to drive to campus, even though traffic is pretty slow and parking lots fill up pretty early. That said, it was a beautiful clear evening, and I got to watch the sun set. We miss a lot when we’re always hurriedly driving from A to B.
Second: how nice people can be. As I was nearing my destination, two musicians driving to rehearsal saw me and pulled over to ask if I needed a ride. I thanked them both but refused. The kindness of these semi-strangers in a small town is a lovely thing, though. Even if that small town is frustratingly backwards in many other ways.
I want the best of both worlds… I want to live somewhere that is dense and walkable yet friendly. That has the culture and resources of a city with the comfortable feel of a small town. In the meantime, I’m going to try to walk to places around here whenever I can.